August Musings

I started a few flats of spinach today, to go in the garden towards the end of the month.  I like to grow a fall garden, I will also plant some salad greens in early September.  That plus my kale, swiss chard, endive, lettuce, beets, green onions and some herbs should get me through the fall.  Later this month I like to go to a local organic grower and pick a bushel of tomatoes which I freeze.  I also give him my order for winter vegetables for which I am so grateful.  I do not have the space to grow my own potatoes, onions, carrots, etc. in this tiny front yard, but I am lucky enough to have a space in my partially finished basement that serves as a surprisingly successful cold storage.  Buying a winter supply of vegetables is my second best choice and has worked for me for ten years now.

But that is not what I wanted to muse about.

I attended a music festival this weekend, its called Blue Skies and it is held on a large expanse of fields and woods north of Kingston.  About 3000 people attend, there is music, dancing, lots of interesting workshops, and wall to wall tents.  The festival has been running for over thirty years, I am not a die hard fan but many people never miss the long weekend.  To me, one of the things that makes Blue Skies special is its commitment to being as environmentally low impact as possible.  There are recycling stations everywhere, plastic water bottles are not allowed, everyone has to bring their own plates and cutlery because the cook shack will not give you anything disposable.  The festival runs with volunteers, volunteers to take the recycling to the local waste disposal site, volunteers to add peat to the outhouses, volunteers to deal with the bins of compost, volunteers to set up and take down the canvas tents that protect the stage and workshop areas.  In many ways it is a great deal of work, but it is work done within a community of friends.  People give of their time so that in the end there is very little garbage and very little permanent impact on the site.  This year there was a workshop about how to make Blue Skies carbon neutral and there was talk about funding a solar power installation in a nearby town that would put clean energy into the grid as a way to help offset the miles that people drive to attend the festival as well as the small amount of electricity that the festival consumes.  I am always amazed at what can be accomplished when there is commitment and conscious intention.

Many years ago I subscribed to a left wing magazine about world politics and events.  I had to give it up because it was just too depressing.  Of all the issues that I read, the one that has stuck with me for all of these years was one full of stories about people that were actually ‘getting it right’.  I remember reading about workers in Argentina who had reclaimed a closed factory and made it profitable, a city in Bolivia that had made a real commitment to public transit and their successes,  and a community called Gaviotas (look it up if you have time) that had won a United Nations award for Right Livelihood.  To me, in that sea of sad news, these successes have so much to offer all of us because they give hope and direction for positive change.

Out problems are immense, but if we focus on the positive and find ways to accomplish positive change in our own lives, we really can turn this world around.

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